8 Fitness Challenges We Can Get Behind

Mark Zuckerberg challenged everyone to follow him in running 365 miles this year. Cake. Here are some tougher challenges to keep you in shape all year long. Credit: Courtesy Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg has announced some lofty personal goals over the years: learn Mandarin, eat meat only from animals he's killed, and now for 2016, design a robot house manager/work assistant. The billionaire Facebook founder just shared his second new mission for the new year — one that finally doesn't make the rest of us look like chumps. Zuckerberg pledges to run 365 miles in 2016, and he's challenging anyone who's game to join him.

As far as fitness challenges go, this one isn't exactly daunting, especially if you're an avid runner. However you break it down — one mile every day, two 3.5-mile jaunts a week, a seven-miler every Sunday — it doesn't add up to much mileage. But if you've been slacking on exercise and need a swift kick in the pants to get going again, Zuckerberg just delivered it.

Like the best fitness challenges, his is motivating but not crushing, structured yet flexible, and is designed to instill lifelong healthy habits. These are the types of objectives we can really get behind. The key is finding a challenge that also matches your fitness level and really pushes you to take your training to the next level.


2,016 miles in 2016 
Crib from Zuckerberg's challenge but crank it up a few notches. Aim to run 2,016 miles this year. That breaks down to roughly 39 miles a week, 5.5 miles a day, an excellent one for anyone training for full and half-marathons this year. 

One New Route Every Week
Whether you're a runner, biker, hiker, or all of the above, if you cover the same roads and trails all the time, you'll probably get bored and plateau. To avoid mundanity and training ruts, commit to tackling one route each week that you've never done before. If ever pickings get slim or you're too short on time one week to seek out a new route, do an old one backwards.

One Half-Marathon or Marathon Each Month
Twelve months, 12 long-distance races, no exceptions. This will require way more training and traveling than entering a 5K or 10K every weekend, but that's the whole point. Always having a meaty challenge and a killer weekend trip on tap will keep you driven throughout the year.

15,000 Steps a Day 
If you've become sedentary and your first goal is to move more, tracking your daily steps with a pedometer and trying to hit a certain mark is a great way to go. But don't think you're accomplishing a whole lot by nailing the token 10,000-steps-a-day target. Unless you're woefully out of shape, experts say this number is low. It equates to about five miles, which anyone who's somewhat active can tackle, no problem. Shoot for 15,000 instead. Then, once you're nailing that regularly, aim for more daily steps, or switch to a more efficient exercise like running, swimming, or cycling.   

30-Day Core Challenge
Although you should give your upper and lower body days off from weight training, you can — and should — work your core every single day. The trick is shaking up your exercises so you can target the many different torso muscles throughout the week. Challenge yourself to work your core every day for a month by cycling through squats, sit-ups, side-ups, seated twists, crunches, planks. The difference you'll see after 30 days should motivate you to keep this one up all year.

Run Every Single Day
Once you build up a streak, you won't want to break it. This doesn't mean running should be your sole form of exercise or that you'll be skipping necessary rest days. Instead, you're pledging that a one-mile run, even if you're bushed and need to take it super slow, is the bare-minimum workout you'll do every day. 

Bucket-List Races in Every State
Research races all over the country, and pick one in each state that you'd love to do before you die. Unless you take a year off to travel and race, you won't come close to completing all of them in 2016. But set a number, like five or eight, that you intend to cross off the list each year.